Lourdes Rodriguez-Nogues, president of DignityUSA, a national organization of LGBT Catholic and supporters, recently was a panelist at a U.S. Congressional briefing on Latino/a support of LGBT issues. The panel, organized by La Raza, a national Latino/a advocacy organization, and sponsored by U.S. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, focused on a newly released research study, LGBT Acceptance and Support: The Hispanic Perspective. (Bondings 2.0 reported on this study when it was released in April 2012.)
“explained the national study demonstrated that, contrary to public belief, people of Hispanic background are as likely to supportLGBT civil rights, including marriage, as the rest of the population. In fact, 54% of Hispanics currently affirm the right of same-sex couples to marry,very similar to the 53% of the general population who express support. The trend was similar among Hispanic Catholics in the U.S., with 57% supporting same-sex marriage, compared with 56% of all Catholics in the U.S.
The survey was underwritten by the Arcus Foundation. Speaking about why the Foundation felt this research was important, Vice President of Social Justice Programming Tom Kam said it is crucial to understand the complexity of opinions among ethnic populations. He felt it was ‘a unique opportunity to hear the voices of Latino people of faith, voices often overshadowed by the leadership of religious institutions, and voices that may be unheard or misrepresented in the public debate.’ ”
Rodriguez-Nogues provided some cultural context for understanding the report:
“Discussing the implications of the survey data, Lourdes went on to explain that in Hispanic culture, the family and the group, rather than the individual, are the center of society. Therefore, efforts to create division in families, such as has been recently documented to be a tactic of the National Organization for Marriage, could be particularly damaging among Hispanics. She noted that the strength of families, and the breadth of extended family, are reasons to keep creating opportunities and models for LGBT people to come out and make civil rights issues personal.”
She also offered some personal background and insight:
“She reflected on her many years of being ‘out in English, but not in Spanish,’ and on the desire not to introduce a topic of prospective discord into her family as the reason for this. Lourdes said that when she ultimately did decide to come out to her mother, who like in most Hispanic families is both the head and the heart of the family, her mother responded with two questions. ‘She asked me if I was happy, and if I had a relationship with God,’ said Lourdes. ‘Those were the things that mattered to her.’ ”
¡Felicidades y muchas gracias, Lourdes!
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry